Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent™

28 Days in Tibet / (Skill level: Advanced)

Price per person

$38,950.00
  • Next Available: Sep 05, 2021 - Oct 02, 2021

About this trip

Climb Cho Oyu in Rapid Ascent™ style- At 26,906' /8201m, Cho Oyu is the sixth tallest mountain in the world and one of the famed fourteen 8,000 meter peaks. It is the perfect first 8,000 meter peak for many climbers, and the ideal training peak for those planning a future attempt on Mount Everest.

Overview

  • skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    28 Days

Alpenglow Expeditions Rapid Ascent™ climbs are an entirely new way to approach big-mountain expeditions. After 15 years of guiding expeditions all over the world, including more than a dozen 8,000-meter peak expeditions, we have refined and distilled the acclimatization and climbing process to maximize safety, health, success, and enjoyment.

The Perfect First 8000m Peak

There are a number of reasons why we recommend 26,906′ (8,201m) Cho Oyu as your first 8,000 meter peak. To begin with, the route is of a reasonable difficulty, with few technical sections. Second, the route has limited objective dangers as compared to other 8,000-meter peaks. There is limited risk from rock and icefall, and avalanche conditions tend to be rare and when they occur, predictable. And third, the mountain experiences much better weather than other “easy” 8,000 meter peaks in Nepal and Pakistan. This means we can spend more time climbing and acclimatizing and less time sitting in storms in tents. The mountain is also stunningly beautiful, has incredible views of both Tibet and Nepal from the climb and its summit, and our expedition gives us a taste of both Nepal and Tibet en route to and from the peak. It is also an excellent 8,000 meter ski peak for experienced and fit big-mountain skiers. Contact us to discuss this option.

Despite all of these reasons that make Cho Oyu the “easiest 8,000 meter peak”, it should not be underestimated. We require a significant amount of experience from each of our team members to ensure that you will feel comfortable on the peak, both with your own skills and of those of your teammates.

Expedition Leader – Adrian Ballinger

Alpenglow Expeditions ensures that the logistics, guiding and base camp staff, food, and equipment are of the absolute highest-level possible. Alpenglow’s 8,000 meter peak expeditions are organized and led by IFMGA guide, Adrian Ballinger. Adrian is one of the most recognized guides in the Himalaya, and the pre-eminent American high-altitude guide (the only US guide with both AMGA/IFMGA certification and more than ten 8,000-meter peak summits). Adrian has an impeccable safety record, eleven 8,000 meter peak summits all while guiding or rope-fixing for guided teams, and has guided more than 50 clients to the summit of Mt. Everest over his past 6 summits). Adrian also has extensive experience organizing complicated logistics for large Himalayan teams (including 6 years as lead guide for one of the Himalaya’s largest companies), as well as countless hours on the mountain rope-fixing with sherpa, guiding members, and assisting and organizing rescues.

Alpenglow Expeditions offers a small team, low ratio, high-end approach to 8,000 meter peak guiding. Beware of cut-rate operators on Himalayan peaks! It is not possible to offer quality staff, equipment, and food for less.

We are also the leader in offering Rapid Ascent™ trips to 8,000 meter peaks, utilizing pre- acclimatization and more Sherpa and guide support than anyone else in the industry. This allows you to climb and summit Cho Oyu quickly and safely.

Alpenglow’s Key Differences

Below are just a few of Alpenglow’s key differences that allow for our rapid-ascent itinerary:

  • 4:1 maximum guide to climber ratio. All guides are IFMGA qualified or aspirants working towards finishing their certification. This is the lowest member to guide ratio in the Himalaya.
  • 1:1 sherpa to climber ratio. This ensures we have the sherpa necessary to carry loads, set camps, and assist climbers. All of our lead and personal sherpa on Cho Oyu are Nepali, and have worked with us on many expeditions to other peaks including Everest and Ama Dablam. They are assisted by local Tibetan sherpa for carrying loads and setting camps.
  • Experienced expedition doctor Monica Piris (12 x 8,000 meter peak expeditions) works with the group throughout the expedition. Dr. Piris also works with each member on his or her pre-acclimatization program.
  • Swiss weather forecasts. Having a quality forecast tailored to Cho Oyu maximizes both our safety and our summit success.
  • 4 bottles of oxygen per climber. This allows us to use oxygen climbing to and at our highest camp, and to climb to the summit on a higher flow than other expeditions, ensuring safety and maximizing success. Our Sherpa also climb on oxygen on summit day (unusual on Cho Oyu), which means they have more strength and comfort to focus on you and your ascent.
  • Imported and local foods of the highest quality, combined with a western trained cook staff. Alpenglow has the best food on the mountain, ensuring your strength and health throughout the expedition.
  • Unlimited WiFi Internet in advanced base camp. Our focus on technology allows you to stay in touch with home and office via email, text message, and phone at no additional expense.
  • Pre-acclimatization using Hypoxico Altitude Training Systems. A four-week rental is included in the expedition price, and use of the system is a requirement for joining our expedition. Contact us to discuss a more traditional “slow-acclimatization” extension to our Cho Oyu Expedition if preferred.

Route Description

Our climb of Cho Oyu begins after arriving in Base Camp (15,750 feet/4,800 meters) via 4wd Landcruisers. The drive from Lhasa is a couple of days, but goes through stunning scenery as we move through the Tibetan Plateau. We spend a day in Base Camp, organizing equipment to go up the mountain. Our pre-acclimatization means this drive and BC time takes only 2-3 days, instead of a week or more.

With each member pre-acclimatized, we move from Base Camp to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) in one day. ABC is actually where we spend most of our time on Cho Oyu and our camp, perched in a glacial moraine at 18,530 feet/5,650 meters, is comfortable and sunny, and is the home of our full Alpenglow infrastructure – heated dining tents, fully stocked kitchen, heated communications and hangout tent, internet access, and much more.

After some necessary rest and acclimatization hikes around ABC and to the nearby Nangpa La (a famous glaciated pass that leads into Nepal and is often traveled by local traders) we move to Camp 1 (21,000 feet/6,400 meters). The climb to Camp 1 begins easily by following the morainal valley to a small lake, before climbing steeply up a challenging scree slope to camp in a protected bowl on the glacial ridge. We spend at least 3 nights in Camp 1. During this time we also make an acclimatization climb over the short but challenging ice cliff (a steep 20-30 meter climb of firm ice on fixed lines), and across broad glaciated slopes to Camp 2, at 23,000 feet/7,000 meters. We do not spend a night in Camp 2, since we will utilize oxygen above this altitude on our summit push. After this climb to Camp 2 we descend to ABC for rest and to prepare for our summit push.

Our final ascent utilizes Camp 1, Camp 2, and a Camp 3 at 24,250 feet/7,400 meters). We climb to, and sleep at, Camp 3 on supplemental oxygen to ensure we are strong and healthy on summit day. The climb to the summit begins with the route’s technical crux, a short steep rock step. From there the route climbs thirty to forty degree snow slopes up to the summit plateau. Cho Oyu’s summit plateau is almost flat and the route traverses all the way to its far end and the true summit where we are rewarded with views of countless Tibetan and Nepali peaks, including inspiring views of Mt. Everest.

From the summit we descend to Camp 2 where we spend the night, and then continue down to ABC to celebrate our summit, rest, and prepare for our return to Kathmandu and home.

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

  • Technical Experience

    Must be able to climb moderate rock, ice, and snow terrain, often with an alpine pack on your back. You should be comfortable with camp craft in high-altitude camps, and able to perform at a high level for multiple days in a row at altitude. Prior ascents of multiple 6000 - 7000 meter peaks is required.

  • Altitude Experience

    Climbers must have substantial climbing experience to join our Cho Oyu Expedition. Prior ascents of multiple 6000 - 7000 meter peaks is required. Climbers must be able to climb technical terrain with an alpine pack on their back. Climbers should also be comfortable with camp craft in high- altitude camps and be able to perform at a high level for multiple days in a row at altitude.

    • Day 0 — Travel Day

      Climbers fly into Chengdu, China, arriving anytime this evening or early the next morning (day 1 of our itinerary). Team members must pick up their Tibet Travel Permits in Chengdu. Alpenglow arranges for these documents to be sent to the hotel of your choice if spending a night in Chengdu, or to the airport during your layover. A layover of 6 hours minimum is required for the delivery of these documents. [This is considered a travel day and is not part of the Alpenglow program.]

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Fly by plane to Lhasa (12,000 feet/3,650 meters). Arrive by mid-afternoon at the latest. From the airport it is an hour drive into Lhasa, where we have a bit of time to walk around the old city, and enjoy a traditional Tibetan dinner. Climbers are responsible for all flights.

    • Day 2 — Visit the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastary, drive to Shigatse (12,500 feet/3,800 meters).

      The Potala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lama, and ancient Jokhang Monastary, are two of Tibet’s most important cultural sites, and imperative to beginning to understand this unique place. After a morning exploring with our local guide, we drive a few hours along the now paved road to Everest, stopping for the night in Shigatse, and our simple but clean hotel.

    • Day 3 — Drive Shigatse to Cho Oyu base camp (15,750’/4,800m).

      Arriving in base camp we’ll unload the vehicles and get some rest.

    • Day 4 — Rest Day Cho Oyu Basecamp

      We spend a day in basecamp resting and organizing gear in preparation for our push to advanced basecamp tomorrow.

    • Day 5 — Move from Base Camp to Advanced Base Camp

      ABC is actually where we spend most of our time on Cho Oyu and our camp, perched in a glacial moraine at 18,530 feet/5,650 meters, is comfortable and sunny, and is the home of our full Alpenglow infrastructure – heated dining tents, fully stocked kitchen, heated communications and hangout tent, internet access, and much more.

    • Day 6 — Rest Day in Cho Oyu ABC

      After our move yesterday we'll need to rest a bit and prepare for moving higher.

    • Day 7 - 24 — Climb 26,906' Cho Oyu

      Our exact climbing plan depends on numerous factors, including weather, route conditions, and our level of acclimatization. We make a few cycles on the mountain, climbing at least as high as 23,000 feet/7,000 meters, before attempting our summit push to the top of 26,906' Cho Oyu.

    • Day 25 — Trek Cho Oyu ABC to Cho Oyu BC

      Begin heading all the way back to Lhasa

    • Day 26 — Drive Cho Oyu BC - Shigatse

      Reversing our drive we end up in Shigatse for the night

    • Day 27 — Drive Shigatse to Lhasa

      Across the Tibetan Plateau we travel, eventually ending up back in Lhasa.

    • Day 28 — Day in Lhasa/Depart for home

      Team members catch flights for home.

      • Headwear and Eyewear

      • Hat

        Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim - the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding. Recommended: Alpenglow 5-Panel

        $25.00
      • Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer First Ascent Beanie

      • Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours. Recommended: Patagonia Balaclava

      • Neck Gaiter (Buff)

        A multi purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy. Recommended: Alpenglow Expeditions Buff

      • Sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies). Recommended: Revoi Guide II

      • Goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired. Recommended: Smith I/O

      • Hands and Feet

      • Liner Gloves

        These gloves keep the inside of your mitts or other gloves from accumulating sweat on the inside and turning inside out when you take them off, as well as provide additional insulation. Recommended: Black Diamond Lightweight WoolTech Gloves

      • Lightweight Gloves

        All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

      • Midweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be your main glove for the trip until summit days, or when it gets especially cold. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Glove

      • Big Mountain Mittens

        These mittens should be warm and worn over either a liner glove or windstopper glove. Down mittens are not required. You should choose a pair that allows you to still operate locking carabiners. Recommended: Black Diamond Absolute Mitt

      • Liner Socks (optional)

        A super-thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon, or Capilene®. NO COTTON. Recommended: Ice Breaker Hike Liner Crew

      • Hiking Socks

        Your everyday sock, good for day hikes, trekking, and in- town. NO COTTON. Recommended: Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks

      • Warm Socks

        A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. NO COTTON. Recommended: Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks

      • Heated Socks

        These are optional, but highly recommended. Bring 2 sets of batteries. Hotronics boot heaters are another option instead of heated socks, but socks are preferred by our guides. Recommended: Sidas PRO-S v2 Heat Set

      • Hiking Shoes

        These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. Recommended: La Sportiva Bushido Hiking Shoes

      • Base Camp Boots

        These snow boots are good for wearing around camp and should be comfortable when you slip into them after spending significant time in your mountain boots. Recommended: Sorel Caribou Boots

      • Mountaineering Boots (8,000m)

        Fully insulated, double boots with an integrated gaiter. These boots are essential for 8000 meter peaks. Recommended: La Sportiva Olympus Mons Cube

      • Mountaineering Boots (5,000m-6,000m)

        Should be warm single or double boots that have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking. Recommended: La Sportiva G5 Boots

      • Down Booties (optional)

        You’ll love having a warm, comfortable shoe to slip into when tent-bound. Recommended: Western Mountaineering Flash Down Booties

      • Upper Body Apparel

      • Lightweight Top

        Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days. The new wool blends are also an option. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

      • Long Sleeve Base Layer

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will never take off. Fitted, light- weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution IR 1/4 Zip

      • Warm Layer

        A polarguard or fleece jacket. This is your mid layer that will be worn over your baselayer most of the trip. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip or Patagonia R1 Jacket

      • Synthetic Top

        A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Stretch Reversible

      • Soft Shell Jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation. A windshirt is an option for this layer. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Sandstone

      • Hard Shell Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. Recommended: Eddie Bauer BC Freshline Jacket

      • Down Parka (6-8k Peaks)

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Peak XV Down Jacket

      • Down Suit

        We HIGHLY recommend an 8000m insulated suit rather than separate top and bottom. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Peak XV 2.0

      • Lower Body Apparel

      • Quick Dry Shorts

        Throw these on under other layers for when the sun begins to beat, or you have a sudden urge to jump in a glacial lake. Lightweight, durable and comfortable. NO COTTON. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Short

      • Base Layer Bottoms

        Fitted and quick drying. This piece will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Midweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants

      • Expedition-weight Bottoms

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base- layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Bring multiple changes of layers. Recommended: Patagonia R1 Pant

      • Soft Shell Pants

        You will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water-resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Alpine

      • Hard Shell Pants

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets. Recommended: Black Diamond Sharp End Pants

      • Insulated Pants

        Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers. This layer is required. Recommended: Black Diamond Stance Belay Pants

      • Expedition Equipment

      • Day Pack

        Mid-size pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). Recommended: Eddie Bauer Bacon 2.0 Pack

      • Climbing Pack

        Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Alpine Sisu 50L Pack or Black Diamond Mission 50 Pack

      • Hydration System (optional)

        Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube

      • Duffle Bags

        2 Duffle Bags - At least one bag should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big - between 90L and 120L. You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying. Two duffel bags are necessary to fit all your equipment for travel (we don't recommend checking your backpack, best is to put all gear and backpack into your duffle). Once in country, you can consolidate your gear into one duffel and your backpack. It's common to leave the second duffel with city clothes and other non-necessary items behind in a locked and secure location that your guide will arrange for you. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Maximus Duffel

      • Inflatable Sleeping Pad

        72 inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad. Recommended: NeoAir Xtherm

      • Sleeping Bag (-30°)

        Rated to -30º F to -40º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Granite Gear Compression Sack is desired. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram with Compression Sack

      • Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp. Recommended: Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

      • 1L Nalgene (2)

        Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles. Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth

      • Compressible 1-1.5L Bottle

        Wide mouth compressible 1-1.5 liter bottle. Recommended: Nalgene Flexible Cantene

      • Plastic Bowl, Mug and Spoon

        A lightweight and compact cookware setup. You'll want a plastic bowl, mug and spoon. Recommended Kit: MSR 2 Person Mess Kit

      • Lighters

        2 BIC Lighters

      • Coffee

        While Alpenglow provides hot drink options every morning, it can be nice to have your own on hand any time you need a boost. With hot water always readily available, having instant coffee packets can give you the energy you need after a long day in the mountains! Recommended: Alpine Start Original Blend Instant Coffee

      • Technical Equipment

      • Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Petzl Meteor Helmet

      • Harness

        Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. Recommended: Petzl Altitude *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

      • Mountaineering Crampons

        Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. Crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first come, first serve basis. Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons

      • General Mountaineering Axe

        One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. Recommended: Petzl Summit

      • Locking Carabiner (2)

        Lightweight small carabiners are best. Recommended: Petzl Attache

      • Non-Locking Carabiner (2)

        Lightweight small carabiners are best, wire-gates are fine. Recommended: Petzl Spirit

      • Belay Device

        Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes. Recommended: Petzl Reverso

      • Accessory Cord

        25’ of 6mm nylon accessory cord. This will be used to make prusiks and cordalettes. Recommended: Sterling Ropes

      • Ascender

        Should have large opening for gloved hands, and an easy thumb trigger. Recommended: Petzl Ascension

      • Avalanche Transceiver

        A digital transceiver that is simple to use or that you are extremely comfortable using. Recommended: Black Diamond Recon BT Avalanche Beacon

      • Miscellaneous Items

      • Miscellaneous Items

        -Passport (with visa, if necessary

        -2 luggage locks (TSA compliant)

        -Non-cotton underwear

        -Wag bags, 1 per night camping as to leave no trace

        -Heavy duty garbage bags (at least 4)

        -Stuffsacks: assorted sizes, for organizing your clothes and gear

        -Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher)

        -Lip balm with SPF 15 (or higher)

        -Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, Personal Medications)

        -Toiletries

        -3-4lbs of Snack food (a variety of snack food, some whole food, some bars, some gels)

        -Hand Warmers

      • In Town Items

        - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000.

        - Ear Plugs

        - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment

        - Language Phrase Book

        - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries.

        - Compact Binoculars

        - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)

      • Optional Items

        - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000.

        - Travel wallet pouch (waist or neck)

        - Leatherman/ Swiss Army Knife (Recommended: Leatherman Juice C2)

        - Zip lock bags (large size, for organizing small items and waterproofing)

        - Pee Funnel (optional for women) One popular model is the Freshette.

        - Ear Plugs

        - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment

        - Language Phrase Book

        - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries.

        - Compact Binoculars

        - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)

      • Packing Note

        For your international flights we recommend that you pack all of your equipment in your two duffle bags. Do not simply pack your backpack (since its straps can be damaged by baggage handling machines). It is important to lock these bags for their trip. Depending on airport, you may be able to put your travel locks on after they have been searched. If not, lock the bag with zip ties. If the TSA cuts off the zip tie to search your bag, they will replace it. You will still need travel locks to lock your bags in the hotel and in Basecamp. Generally, you will take one duffle to Basecamp, and leave one in the hotel with your belongings for town.

    • Would you consider doing a custom expedition to Cho Oyu?

      We always consider customs expeditions. Custom trips make up more than 50% of our groups. Contact us to begin the conversation.

    • What sort of experience is needed for Cho Oyu?

      In order to join our Cho Oyu expedition, climbers must have experience on an 7000 meter peak. Many climbers gain this experience by joining our expedition to Aconcagua. Climbers must have solid ice and snow climbing experience, including the use of ice axe, crampons and fixed rope systems.

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • What is Rapid Ascent™?

      Rapid Ascent™ is a unique program developed by Alpenglow Expeditions that combines the relatively new application of hypoxic training with precise logistics and small team sizes to greatly increase the chances of success while reducing the overall time spent away from home on an international expedition.

    • Do I really need to purchase trip and rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing trip insurance, and we require rescue insurance on all expeditions. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend Global Rescue for both types of insurance .

Adrian Ballinger

Adrian Ballinger is one of the USA’s premier high-altitude mountain guides, and the only American guide to have both AMGA/IFMGA guide’s certification (one of roughly 150 in the USA) and more than a fifteen summits of 8,000 meter peaks (17 total, including 8 summits of Mt. Everest, 1 without supplemental oxygen, as well as an ascent of K2 without supplemental oxygen). As founder of Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian has been guiding full-time for over twenty years and has led over 130 international climbing expeditions on 6 continents.

In 2011 he, along with 2 Sherpa partners, became the first people to summit three 8,000 meter peaks in only 3 weeks (Everest twice and Lhotse once). He is also the first person to ski Manaslu (the 8th tallest mountain in the world) from its summit, and the first American to successfully ski two 8,000-meter peaks. These personal successes are combined with Adrian’s passion for guiding and teaching others. Adrian has successfully led more than 100 clients to the summits of Everest, Lhotse (the 4th tallest mountain in world), Cho Oyu (6th tallest) and Manaslu (8th tallest).

Whether on skis, in rock shoes, or mountain boots, Adrian thrives on sharing the big mountains with friends and clients, and helping them to build their skills and experience to be successful on the world’s most beautiful mountains. In the coming seasons, Adrian plans on continuing to enjoy big-mountain skiing, climbing, and guiding in the Himalaya, South America, Europe, and of course closer to home in Squaw Valley, CA. Adrian is a sponsored athlete for Eddie Bauer, La Sportiva, Blizzard, Tecnica, Hiball Energy, and Favre Leuba.

Learn more about Adrian at adrianballinger.com

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Esteban Topo Mena is 28 years old and began his guiding career at 19, when he climbed Aconcagua’s South Face and became the youngest person to accomplish this difficult climb. Topo began guiding in Ecuador and Peru. In 2012, Topo summited Manaslu and in 2013, he summited Everest – both without using supplementary oxygen. Topo again summited Everest in 2016 while supporting his wonderful partner Carla as she successfully summited without supplemental oxygen. In 2018 Topo summited both Cho Oyu and Everest with clients in under 30 days. An incredible achievement that only the best guides in the word could attempt. He also has climbed challenging new routes in Kyrgyzstan and China and one of his climbs (Kyzyl Asker) has been nominated for the Piolet d’Or (as part of an Ecuadorian team).

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for over 15 years and works full time as a mountain guide. Based out of Ridgway Colorado, Chad spends his winters instructing and guiding on some of the best ice terrain the U.S. has to offer. Outside of Colorado he has traveled and guided extensively throughout North and South America with several trips to the Himalayas including multiple summits of both Everest and Ama Dablam. When not in the Mountains Chad does clothing and equipment design for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent outdoor line.

Chad is an AMGA Rock & Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

What others are saying about this trip

Expedition Inquiry Form

  • Have questions about this trip?

    Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent™

Cho Oyu Rapid Ascent™

Climb Cho Oyu in Rapid Ascent™ style- At 26,906' /8201m, Cho Oyu is the sixth tallest mountain in the world and one of the famed fourteen 8,000 meter peaks. It is the perfect first 8,000 meter peak for many climbers, and the ideal training peak for those planning a future attempt on Mount Everest.